Changes are afoot – New requirements for claiming the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) rebate from 1 July 2018

Article  \  7 May 2018

The Australian tax office has taken steps to reduce the WET rebate cap and impose restrictions on which wine qualifies for the WET rebate.  These changes will apply equally to New Zealand and Australian wine producers from 1 July 2018.

The WET rebate is a rebate under the WET Act for producers of eligible wine sold in Australia.

If you are a New Zealand wine producer selling wine into Australia, you need to familiarise yourself with these changes, so you can continue to claim the WET rebate.

One of the key changes to claim the WET rebate is that each bottle of wine sold into Australia must be branded with a ‘qualifying trade mark’ which identifies or is associated with the producer of the wine.

The ‘qualifying trade mark’ can either be a registered New Zealand or Australian trade mark, a pending New Zealand or Australian trade mark application, or a trade mark that has been used in either New Zealand or Australia by the producer of the wine from at least 1 July 2015 up to date of the assessable transaction you are claiming the WET rebate for.

It is important that the trade mark that you have applied for or registered, or which you are using as an unregistered trade mark, be identical to the trade mark that is being applied to the wine bottle.

Equally important is ensuring that the wine producer is recorded as the owner of a pending trade mark application or registered trade mark.  It is not uncommon for the trade marks of a business to be filed in the name of the owner, or some other party.

Relying on an unregistered trade mark right may be problematic if you have not kept good records of your use of your trade mark, or if you have used your trade mark intermittently.  Establishing use of a qualifying trade mark requires evidence.

If you are relying on unregistered trade mark rights to qualify for a WET rebate, we recommend checking that you can meet all the requirements. We would be pleased to assist with this.

With the imminent implementation of these new requirements, it is timely to review what trade marks you are using and have registered to ensure that you have comprehensive protection. 

Irrespective of the WET rebate requirements, it makes good sense to register trade marks you are using, not only in New Zealand and Australia, but also in other export markets to ensure your very valuable assets are protected.

Please contact us if you have any questions or if you would like our assistance in protecting your trade marks.